Bobbies on the buses

On Thursday 25th April 2019, in support of the National Police Chiefs Council’s (NPCC) national crackdown on drivers who use their mobiles behind the wheel, plain clothes police officers took their seats on the upper deck of double decker bus, the very latest Enviro400 City model kindly supplied by Plymouth Citybus.

It gave them a perfect vantage point to view drivers in their vehicles in and around the centre of Plymouth on high traffic volume roads. As well as the use of mobile phones handheld, they were able to spot other dangerous behaviours which make up the Fatal Five - excessive or inappropriate speed, driving without a seat belt, distracted driving in general, driving while unfit through drink or drugs and driving without due care and attention.

The spotters passed on the details to marked and unmarked police vehicles which directed the offending motorists to a safe stop site for the appropriate the issue of penalties.

MPC Ralph Delbridge for the Devon and Cornwall Police No Excuse team said: “This operation maximises police resources by working closely with partner organisations in the community. We are extremely grateful to Plymouth Citybus for providing us with a bus and driver for this operation.

“Additionally we have had great support from Highways England, the Peninsula Road safety Partnership (PRSP), Special Constabulary and Plymouth City Council.”

The operation ran from 9am to 3pm. 14 drivers were caught using their mobile phones while driving and will be fined £200 and receive six penalty points on their licence.

MPC Delbridge said: “Crucially, all of these drivers had their phones on their laps. Were it not for the unique high viewpoint offered by the bus we might not have seen them. We have gone beyond people holding a phone up to their ear to people actually thinking they can control their vehicle while using apps. Be assured that we will be using this technique again across both counties to penalise drivers who put themselves and other road users at risk by using their phones in this irresponsible way.”

MPC Delbridge continued: “This operation maximises police resources by working closely with partner organisations in the community. We are extremely grateful to Plymouth Citybus for providing us with a bus and driver for this operation.

“Additionally we have had great support from Highways England, the Peninsula Road safety Partnership (PRSP), Special Constabulary and Plymouth City Council.”

Beverley Hannah, South West Safety Lead for Highways England, said: “Safety is our top priority. We believe no-one should be harmed when travelling or working on our road network, and we welcomed the opportunity to be involved in today’s operation.

“We undertake a number of safety campaigns and initiatives and we also support local police partners and road safety partnerships in operations such as this, which help to raise awareness and spread the safety message to road users.”

Additionally on the day one car was seized because the driver had no insurance. They will have to purchase insurance and pay a release fee before getting their vehicle back.

There was one positive result for cannabis use from an instant side of the road drug mouth swab and one seizure of cannabis. The camera vans of the PRSP detected approximately 100 speeding offences.